Costly solar-powered insect trap; farmers in shock

Costly solar-powered insect trap; farmers in shock

The expensive solar light-powered insect traps being sold to unsuspecting farmers under the centre-sponsored PMKSY by Agriculture department in Kodagu district.

A suspicion among farmers about subsidised farm equipment and accessories being overpriced due to unholy nexus between officials and private entities appears to be true.

The department of Agriculture in Kodagu district under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY), scheme to improve farm productivity, has procured 150 solar light-powered insect traps after placing an indent for 350 such insect traps from Kalaburagi-based Fortune Sales Corporation to be distributed among the farmers.

According to information obtained by RTI activist Sanjeeva Kabaka from Puttur, each unit, including GST, purchased from Fortune corporation had cost over Rs 11,800. The department of Agriculture in its reply to the queries under RTI had revealed paying Rs 17,38,373 for over 150 units.

Sanjeeva says the haste to purchase such expensive solar-powered insect traps despite the availability of low-cost solar-powered insect traps had raised eyebrows.

“A farmer-cum-inventor Karibasappa’s indigenous solar-powered insect trap is priced at Rs 4,800, including GST and door-delivery charges,” he points out.

Karibasappa, when contacted, said that he had sold his units, each priced at Rs 4,800, to the Department of Agriculture in nine districts, including Shivamogga under ATMA scheme.

“By selling units that are three times more expensive than my unit proves that officials are making money,’’ said Karibasappa, who is in New Delhi participating in an exhibition.

He said the insect traps purchased by the Agriculture department in Kodagu district cannot withstand high wind speed and is made of plastic. Its battery life lasts only about six months.

“My prototype is able to withstand high wind speed, is made up of metal and the lithium battery has a shelf life of four years and covers two acres,” he said.

Incidentally, Karibasappa’s prototype has the backing of officials in Agricultural universities and also had won Infosys Foundation’s Aarohan Innovation award.

Joint Director of Agricultural Department, Kodagu, Raju did not respond to calls.

Watershed development department Director Padmanabh Naik when contacted said the standards for procurement of insect traps were laid by the Agriculture Department under the directions of Minister for Agriculture.

Kodagu Deputy Commissioner Annies Kanmani Joy, when contacted, promised to look into the issue of Agriculture department selling expensive solar-powered insect traps to farmers.